A CONVERSATION WITH BOON'S C.L. MAYERS
LUNCHEON MAGAZINE & PLATFORM PRESENT:
A CONVERSATION WITH BOON'S C.L. MAYERS
The journalist and creative director on his limited-edition project with Luncheon Magazine & Platform.
BOON: a selection of work created and curated by C. L. MAYERS, by Luncheon Editions & supported by Platform
The first time I met Frances was when Luncheon did its first issue, which I still have. They came to Central Saint Martins and did a project with us. I believe I’m in the first issue of Luncheon with a credit for transcribing, which is hilarious.
We had a group exhibition in collaboration with MatchesFashion that Frances attended, and she loved it. That was DICKPRINT [a queer magazine that was Mayers’ senior project at Saint Martins], which was inspired by a particular section in Man Ray’s autobiography that detailed his initial arrive in France and sneaking in his questionable art pieces by telling the border officers they were fetishes in a bid to deter suspicious questioning. It led to me thinking about the interpretation of fetish and my own understanding of it. Then, eventually, DICKPRINT, which was about fetish and clothes, and how you give or perhaps there is already a power within the likes of rubber or a suit or whatever the fetish is.
She read it and loved it and was always very supportive. She got me to write a piece in Luncheon about my friend Gareth Wrighton, who is a multi-hyphenate designer-artist-crazy person. It was just meant to be a feature, but then she emailed me out of the blue and told me they were going to make it the cover story. From there, she approached me again and said, “I’d love for you to make a Luncheon Edition and you can do whatever you want.”
At the time, Platform wasn’t involved yet, and it was just kind of me making these poems. I wanted to have a bit more fun and experiment, and that’s why I went for the prose/poetry angle. Then I ended up making some really random artworks in the vein of DICKPRINT. When she mentioned that Platform wanted to get involved and I saw the artists, I thought, “This makes so much sense.” I thought I could put it together with the artwork and it became Boon.
I’ve heard you call yourself a journalist, but it seems like, particularly with this project but also with DICKPRINT, that your work goes far beyond what people think of as journalism. How do you describe what you do?
I think that stems from the Saint Martins training. It was always imprinted in our minds that we had to be visual, that we had to understand the language of images. You can write a thousand beautiful words but some people just won’t read that if the image next to it looks like shit. Even the typography and the layout of a text is super important—I learnt the value of that via Sosa, Joe and the other straight boys I befriended in the graphics department at university. The graphics and typography have always been interesting to me, though. I always had a strong idea of what I liked and what I wanted. I do think it’s beyond journalism and writing. I think I just want to express myself, however that manifests.
What do you think is exciting in fashion right now?
What excites me is what my friends are doing, what young people are doing, honestly. I love seeing what Mowalola’s doing. I think it’s quite anti-fashion. I think it’s punk in spirit. I love what the young kids are doing that reject the industry and often, coincidentally, are adored by it. I’ve not lost an interest in fashion, but I have such little interest in what’s going on in the industry generally. I think it's typically quite uninspired.
I do have a soft spot for Hedi Slimane, though—there's something quite troll-like about what he does. I'm not sure whether he intends it to be or if he is dead serious, which would make it all the more fab.
All of our relationships, like with Ibrahim and Campbell, started with Saint Martins and being in a space where there weren't a lot of other Black kids. There weren't a lot of people from London, actually. There aren’t a lot of Londoners in there, and outside of race, there aren’t a lot of working class people in these schools. So, you form a community and have an understanding and support one another off of that alone. And even beyond these things, there are people you meet from all walks of life who just get it. Rich or poor, black or white, he/she/they/them...it can fall flat when you're of a creative likemind and there is that synergy. I was fortunate enough to find that throughout my experience at university.
Our relationships are just about support and understanding. When I go to them, I go to them as my friends. Recently, I was with Ib and Campbell and we went to this Vietnamese restaurant, and when we left, I was like, “This is insane. Not that long ago we were just students fighting for the next internship.” Now, Campbell’s just shot Beyoncé for Harper’s Bazaar and Ibrahim is telling me about his latest Rihanna shoot. But they deserve it all and more because not only are they talented but they're also such hard workers.
What’s your earliest memory of being impacted by art?
I don’t think I was exposed to much art throughout primary school and high school, or perhaps I wasn’t paying attention—let me not shift the blame. In terms of exhibitions and things like that, I don’t think it left a mark on me. I think fashion and music did that more so.
How would you describe the kind of art that excites you now?
There are two sides to it. There’s one side where it’s something I’m attracted to visually, and I don’t necessarily have to, or want to, think about it. It’s just an instant kind of attraction I don't necessarily have to or want to rationalize. Its about the feeling... it's quite pure. Right now, I’m obsessed with a lot of color. Anything that’s really colorful or clashing or bright gets my attention. Peter Saul is a favorite right now, and I also love what Asif Hoque is doing, whom you actually introduced me to.
Yes, definitely. And the other side of it is that I like things that might not necessarily be “beautiful”, but they make me think or they make me question things in society or about myself or about the artist. I like to be triggered to think in that way. I think Maurizio Cattelan's infamous banana on the wall is hilarious. Although it’s a simple action to do that, it makes me think.
Have you bought anything recently that you love?
There’s this Dries [van Noten] coat that I bought last Christmas, but I didn’t wear it until a couple of weeks ago. It’s this beautiful, green silk coat with this amazing print. I just had to buy it. I wore it for the first time in Paris during fashion week.
I’m not much of a collector outside of those things, I think. I quite like to move on. I enjoy something and then I’m on to the next thing.
Any up-and-coming talents you’re inspired by lately?
I really like Yinka Ilori, a Nigerian artist from the UK. He’s Black British of Nigerian descent. I’m not sure if he was born here or not. Initially, I was introduced to his chairs, but now he does these amazing projects, like where he takes over a whole park and it becomes this beautiful, brightly-imprinted thing. Or he’ll reimagine crossings in the road, things that we encounter every day in London where it’s grey and awful, but when you see his work it’s just bright and beautiful.
Also, Aaron Kudi. He repurposes found materials and makes sculptures out of them. And Obi Agwam from New York City. He does portraits and paintings of these characters he creates. I just found him on Instagram and I love his work. I also love what the journalist Aniefok Ekpoudom is doing here in the UK. And Caleb Femi! Also a friend called Alvin who runs Tag Agency in London, which works with young people in his community. He's so young himself and it's honestly the most inspiring thing.
Are there any unexpected Instagram accounts you follow and love?
I definitely have some questionable accounts on my Finsta. I follow @loveofhuns, which posts early naughties, classic British things, like clips from EastEnders or clips of Gemma Collins or Adele before she was really big or Fergie doing cartwheels on Good Morning America. It’s really funny throwbacks of cult British moments.
What are some hidden gem spots in London that you’d recommend to a visitor?
My favorite Caribbean restaurant in Dalston, Survivors. It never misses. I know I’m always going to get the same quality of food. And I have this whole thing about cinnamon buns. During lockdowns, I did this series of going around London and tasting the best cinnamon buns. Fabrique Bakery has the best cinnamon buns. Pavilion in Victoria Park also has great cinnamon buns and cardamom buns as well. Oh, and Bageriet in Covent Garden!
Okay, last one. Dream dinner guests, dead or alive?
I’d love to have different eras, so maybe I would pluck someone like Little Richard and Prince and then get maybe Tupac, maybe James Baldwin.
That's a good group. I try to think about who the really good talkers are. You want someone who’s not gonna disappoint.
Oh, Joan Rivers and Wendy Williams. Azealia Banks! Oh my god, OK, I’ve got it. I’d have Azealia Banks, I’d have Kanye West, I’d have Lauryn Hill, I’d have Wendy Williams and Naomi Campbell. I’d have a bunch of geminis in a room, essentially, and just let the chaos ensue.
Why does everyone love Azealia Banks so much? Just cuz she’s kind of crazy? The kids love her. I feel like I’m too old for her now, even though she came out when I was like 23.
Yeah, she’s been around for a while. I just think she’d have a lot to say.